Strategy can sometimes be a marmite word for new business owners. Some entrepreneurs love nothing more than creating their business plan of action whereas others can feel intimidated by the idea and prefer to focus on their product or services and allow things to take off organically. But while product and services are important, the most important thing is making sure your business is viable in the first place.
In my experience of having worked with all kinds of business owners over the years it’s always a relief when the strategic planning is done because it finally gives your vision shape and form – and a roadmap for how you will achieve it.
Broadly speaking a strategy takes you from A to B in your business. It contains your business objectives and looks at your model, your marketing, your social media but crucially, it sets out how you’re going to achieve your aims. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to strategy which is why it can feel overwhelming, but I’ve found that when you start getting the pieces in place, strategic planning isn’t as scary as it may first appear.
No matter what business you’re in, every strategy has to start with understanding your ideal client. Unless you know who you’re selling to, you won’t get very far.
Think about how you’re going to define your ideal client – their age, their concerns, their problems and what it is about them that makes them quintessentially ideal for your product or services.
It sometimes helps to create a dossier about your ideal client, thinking about who they are, where they might live, what their aspirations and hopes are, what media they consume, which brands and companies are already on their radar, who else they invest in or shop from. The more information you can put together about them, the better. Once you have this clear idea of your perfect client then you can more precisely tailor your messaging and offering to appeal to them, exactly. What do they want more of? What do they want less of? What haven’t they thought of before?
Every part of your strategy ultimately comes back to serving this customer so it really does make sense to start here so you can create the perfect offering and a seamless customer journey.
When you had the inspiration for your business idea, it’s very likely that it started as a little spark and then turned into a firework of other brilliant ideas and possibilities. Well, thinking about that firework is really important for your strategy because effectively that firework is your end goal, your big finale, the huge impressive climax that you want your business to get to.
So before you jump into the nuts and bolts of audience building and segmentation and conversion and marketing and everything else that comes with a comprehensive strategy, it’s important to focus on that firework vision and properly define it. Ask yourself these questions. What do you want your business to ultimately achieve? How far do you want it to go? What is the end goal? Is it to sell your business on or change your lifestyle or to help as many people as possible or a combination of other factors? Think about how far and how fast you want to scale? How big or contained you want your business to be, what your ideal turnover is, the kind of clients you want to work with. The sky is literally the limit here, so keep thinking freely and try and pin down what your vision is because if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s going to be really difficult to get anywhere.
As well as your vision it’s just as vital to be clear on your value proposition – that is to say – the value your services or products are giving to your ideal customer. To really understand what makes your business unique and interesting to others, you need to look at the current marketplace and see how others are approaching the problem that your product or service solves. Then ask yourself, what makes yours different? Why does yours stand out? What can you provide that others can’t?
All these questions lead into how you’re going to nail your positioning. How are you going to talk about your business, what are the key takeaways you want people to have when they experience your business? How does this translate to your branding, your aesthetics and tone of voice? And how does this positioning inform your marketing and selling approach – like where, how and when you are going to approach potential customers.
Another great way to approach your strategy is to work backwards from the vision you’ve defined.
If your goal is to have a 100k turnover, what does that mean in terms of actions and transactions? What has to happen to reach that goal? How much do you need to sell each month? In order to sell that much, what other elements and assets will have to be in place? Will you need a team? Will you need to sort out a passive income? What will your social reach have to be? What conversion rate will you have to achieve? And what minimum spend will each customer have to pay to make your goal possible?
Reverse engineering your strategy leads to a lot of in-depth questions and actually, these are a great way to open up the conversation from the beginning about how you want things to look like in the end. It’s worth spending as long as it takes on this part, because you can’t rush it.
By the time you have taken all those steps backwards to launch, you will feel a lot clearer and a lot more confident about exactly what it takes to achieve your goal. It actually makes things less intimidating to know you have already plotted a path to success.
No strategy should be static. In fact, the best strategies are flexible and constantly evolving. While it’s important to have a plan for each area of your business, from social media to product development it’s also important to be able to review and revise your strategy. If you’re not reviewing and revising you’re not using your strategy properly. It is designed to give you a plan but you have to compare reality and results to your strategy on a regular basis so you can make informed decisions about what needs to change.
If you’re struggling with strategy or lacking clarity about the next steps you need to take to achieve your business goals why not book a call with me to discuss your launch plans or growth goals. My Elevate packages offer a mix of strategic and practical support for every entrepreneur, careerist and ambitious individual and I’d love to help you to make your business dreams a reality. I can’t wait to hear from you.
Shereen Hoban is an executive business coach and entrepreneurial coach. Find out more about her coaching services and programmes here: www.shereenhobancoaching.com